How will candidates fair in the top races in the state Republican Party Convention this coming Saturday?
UtahPolicy attempted to speak to the many candidates during the Salt Lake County GOP convention held last Saturday.
Not all could be contacted for their personal opinions, as the hall was flooded with many office seekers. But here are some smatterings of comments and predictions:
-- Dave Hansen, campaign manager for Sen. Orrin Hatch: “I’ve said for a year we would get 63 percent at the convention and I’m sticking with it.”
60 percent or above wins the nomination for any candidate who can get that super-majority in any round of voting.
UtahPolicy’s insider poll shows most Republicans and Democrats believe there will be a primary between Hatch and former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist.
-- Several well-known Liljenquist supporters said the former state senator will do just fine against Hatch in the state convention, and will end up in a primary.
-- Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, who is in a tight three-way GOP race in the new 4th Congressional District: “I’ll for sure coming out in a primary or win it outright, that’s my prediction.”
-- Former state Rep. Carl Wimmer: “Every poll I’ve seen” of 4th District voters “has me leading by double digits.”
But, of course, Saturday is a vote of the 1,000 state delegates in the 4th District, not of general voters.
“I’m soon going to have my own delegate poll, and I believe I will be substantially ahead.”
If there is a primary (if Wimmer doesn’t get 60 percent) then the candidate believes he will come out of the convention ahead of either Love or former state Rep. Steve Sandstrom.
“Mia and Steve are very close for second place,” said Wimmer.
-- Sandstrom said: “It’s wrong for anyone to say they can get 60 percent” in the 4th District convention vote.
And don’t believe any candidate’s delegate poll. “They are just juicing them,” Sandstrom said.
“I know I’m surging. You want to peak at the right time, and I am. I don’t know who will come out into a primary, but I’m gaining ground,” said Sandstrom.
-- Former state House Speaker David Clark, who is running for the newly-drawn 2nd Congressional District, said with 11 GOP candidates in the race he doesn’t think anyone will get 60 percent and win the nomination outright.
“There will be a primary,” said Clark, who is usually a cautious politician. “Will I be in it? Yes.
“In an open seat” – U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, is jumping from his old 2nd District to the 4th District race – “with all these (GOP) candidates, history tells us no one will win in convention.”
But Clark, who hails from Washington County in the southwestern part of the new district, says he believes he’ll do well in Salt Lake and Davis county areas.
“I’ve been up here a lot” in those two Wasatch Front counties.
Pressed for a firm prediction, Clark said: “I think it will be me and Stewart.”
In general, politicos think of Clark’s challengers Davis County businessman/author Chris Stewart is the strongest.
UtahPolicy’s insider poll predicts a Clark/Stewart GOP primary in the 2nd District.
-- GOP Gov. Gary Herbert’s supporters told UtahPolicy at the GOP Salt Lake County convention that Herbert has been optimistic in recent weeks that he has a real shot at getting 60 percent of the 4,000 state GOP delegates statewide, and winning the nomination outright.
But his top two challengers don’t see it that way this Saturday.
-- State Rep. Ken Sumsion, R-American Fork, told UtahPolicy that he doesn’t know what will happen Saturday.
“But I think some folks, including me, will be very surprised” – meaning Sumsion will do better than the so-called “experts” believe.
“I’ve met some delegates who didn’t even know the governor’s name. That’s not good for him, very good for me.”
Sumsion said he’s met with many of the 4,000 delegates, and found them to be very interested and engaged.
“Some who don’t have internet have called me up – I didn’t reach them at first – and asked to meet with me. They come with ring-folders full of our campaign material and ready questions.
“They are very willing to talk about the advantages of candidates other than the governor,” said Sumsion.
-- Former state Rep. Morgan Philpot, who lost a close race against Matheson in 2010, said: “I will get into a primary, probably with the governor.”
“The governor’s support is broad, but very shallow.” Delegates are willing to switch their support after talking to him, said Philpot.
“There are not strong feelings in support” of Herbert. “So far, he’s like been their choice almost by default, because they don’t know about the rest” of the candidates challenging him.
“All of us are working very hard; we’re getting a good reception” from the delegates.
It’s true that Herbert has more than $1 million in his campaign war chest.
“But so did Jim Matheson. And I almost beat him” in 2010.
“We’re all going to wait, excited to see” what happens in the April 21 state GOP convention, said Philpot.